9 Affiliate Marketing Traffic Sources (That Actually Work)

Discovering which affiliate marketing traffic is best takes a bit of trial and error. This post shows legit strategies you can try right now.

Sean Brison by Sean Brison | Last Updated: March 21, 2021

Driving affiliate marketing traffic to your website is insanely challenging (especially in its early days). One prominent problem content creators face is which traffic source to focus on.

There is an infinite number to choose from, and knowing which ones are best for your business may be unclear. The solution is to start with one, track a few key metrics, analyze results, and determine if it’s generating momentum.

This post highlights nine affiliate marketing traffic sources you can use to build your audience, increase conversion rates, and grow your business.

Top Affiliate Marketing Traffic Sources

Understanding the affiliate offers you’re promoting plays a substantial role in the traffic source you choose.

The better you know where your audience hangs out, the better you’ll know where to focus your time and efforts.

Pay attention to who’s visiting your site and monitor their:

You’ll also want to note which devices your customers use (e.g., tablet, mobile traffic, desktop, laptop), browser (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.), and operating system (e.g., Android, iPhone).

Google Analytics can help figure these things out.

google analytics audience overview

Log into your GA account, click “Audience,” and a dropdown menu appears with a list of targeting metrics.

From here, scroll down to see more reports, including:

google analytics audience report

Once you determine how people find your site (i.e., the best traffic sources for your business), you can refine your targeting options and create campaigns to better position your affiliate products.

This data will help you to monetize your website more efficiently.

Become proficient in one traffic source before moving on to another. You want quality traffic that converts.

The two traffic source “buckets” are organic traffic and paid traffic. Both have pros and cons.

Let’s unpack what’s available to bloggers and affiliate marketers.

Organic Traffic 

Organic traffic is free and costs nothing. That’s one of its upsides. The downside is it takes time to build.

It’s also super-competitive, so your content should be high-quality if you want to build backlinks, gain shares, or earn “likes.”

SEO (Organic Search)

Search Engine Optimization is when you optimize your website’s posts and pages to make it easier for search engines to find (e.g., when someone runs a Google search).

It also measures the pulse of your website’s health.

SEO involves many other factors, including:

In his post, How to Do Keyword Research for Affiliate Sites, Josh Hardwick from Ahrefs mentions keyword research is more than only looking for low-competition keywords, writing a blog post, and stuffing it full of affiliate links.

The process involves:

Then deciding which of the four best types of affiliate keywords to target (general comparisons, branded comparisons, product reviews, or T&A keywords).

Once you’ve determined these factors, creating content that provides value to your readers and performs well in organic searches gets easier.

Make sure to update your content regularly when using organic search as search intent or search engine algorithms can change.

Use Specialized Affiliate Tools to Promote Links

Once you’ve decided what you’ll promote, using a tool like Lasso can help drive traffic to your affiliate links using custom displays.

This, along with more information provided in the display box can help gain your visitor’s trust and increase conversion rates.

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You’ll also want to optimize your posts and pages for things like headlines, meta tags, internal links, and external links.

This list of affiliate WordPress plugins will also give you more ideas.

The secret to creating high-quality content is to help people solve their problems like your life depends on it.

For more details on optimizing your posts for SEO, check out our article about affiliate marketing mistakes.

Leverage Online Forums

Leverage online forums by answering questions relevant to your industry. You’ll build authority as people start seeing you as the expert.

The more consistently you answer questions, the more your authority grows.

Quora and Reddit are two of the largest platforms for executing this strategy.

Reddit

Reddit has 430 million monthly visitors. Go to Reddit and look for terms related to your affiliate site, and view the comments.

Look for comments with lots of engagement for the most amount of traffic. You can post your comments with links to your website as long as you do it ethically.

If you’re helping them solve a problem, you’re in good shape.

Use Reddit’s keyword research tool, Keyworddit, to find keywords related to your niche.

keyworddit home page affiliate marketing traffic

Enter the name of a subreddit, and Keyworddit finds all related keywords in that subreddit with monthly search volume and context.

related keywords using keyworddit

When you click ‘Context,’ you’re taken to the SERP page with all corresponding results for that keyword.

Here’s what I get using the first keyword at the top of the list, “responsive web design”:

serp feed using keyworddit

Or, if you’re using Quora, (the site gets 300 million monthly visitors), enter the domain into a tool like Ahrefs Site Explorer, and use its ‘Top Pages’ report with your keyword as a filter.

In the below example, I used the keyword filter “affiliate marketing.” It displays all of the related questions featuring that keyword.

ahrefs top pages report

Guest blogging and answering comments in niche-specific forums are two more examples of ways you can generate traffic to your website.

When looking for industry-specific groups or forums to answer questions in, try using a search term like, “marketing questions for [keyword]” or “business questions for [keyword]”

For example:

Marketing questions for pet store owners

You can also search for any industry for groups on Linkedin or Facebook.

Social Media 

Leveraging social media is excellent for engaging your target audience, raising your brand’s awareness, and increasing sales.

There are currently seven primary social media platforms where you can deploy marketing efforts:

This section outlines how you could use social media sites for marketing.

Social Media Marketing [Free]

Like building an audience organically with search engines, it takes time to create a substantial following on social media.

It requires active engagement with your readers, but when done correctly, it can yield massive results.

Sharing content can be as simple as promoting a blog post or a video.

You’ll want to pay attention to what your audience talks about, post comments to maintain active engagement, and measure what’s working.

Think about the content you want to publish. Pictures? Use Instagram.

Blog posts? Try Facebook or Linkedin.

I promote new blog content on Linkedin.

Social networks also serve as:

For example, one of our brands uses its Facebook community to answer questions, promote new content, and ask for ideas.

If needed, you can run hyper-targeted social media ads to specific demographics (more on that below).

Using social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite can help automate this process. You can plan and choose the date and time you want to publish content.

Check out Buffer’s Social Media Marketing guide for a deeper dive.

Social Media Advertising

Social media ad campaigns let you connect with your target audience at scale. The process is also quicker.

Before putting money on the table to get targeted traffic, determine which networks your audience hangs out on before running your campaign.

Facebook is one of the most commonly used, so, many start there because of its diversity.

facebook ad example

You can leverage video ads (like the above example), photo ads, story ads, carousel ads, and collection ads.

And Facebook is only one example.

There are seven major social networks to consider.

You can run ad campaigns to display on feeds like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

While this post doesn’t detail social media advertising, Hootsuite’s Social Media Advertising guide is a good starting point.

Email Marketing

Email marketing lets you foster relationships with your audience, promote content, and boost sales by sending them information straight to their inbox.

When someone visits your website, have them sign up for your newsletter, product review template, checklist, or another lead magnet.

Once you have their email address, you can use it to build a deeper relationship with your readers.

And similar to using social media management tools, you can automate your email marketing campaigns.

There are a variety of ways you can use automation, including:

These are ways to maintain engagement without worrying when to send emails because you’ve prepared.

When social media sites crash, you’ll always have your email list.

Building an email list is one of the most crucial aspects of your job as an affiliate marketer. Check out Active Campaign to enhance your customer’s experience.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) 

PPC ads appear on search results pages. You’ll post one on a platform (e.g., Google) and pay that platform whenever someone clicks your ad.

These ads typically target specific keywords meant to attract website visitors to your offer.

For example, Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) uses real-time bidding and auctions off keywords to the highest bidder.

You can divide your campaigns into different categories, including:

PPC and cost-per-click (CPC) are one and the same as both refer to the same thing.

For example, you might say you’re running a PPC campaign, and you’d like your CPC not to exceed $1.00.

google ad example affiliate marketing traffic

PPC ads appear at the tops and bottoms of organic search results.

You can see when I enter “SEO basics” into Google’s search bar, several paid ads appear at the top before arriving at the organic results.

Other search engines also feature ad placement, including:

Paying for search traffic is costly because you’re paying for visibility.

While holding the top place in a Google search is amazing, once your money disappears, so does your spot.

A similar paid advertising model is Pay-Per-View (PPV), which employs a landing page designed to drive clicks to your website.

Digital Media Buying & Display Advertising

You can buy ad space through places like the Google Display Network (GDN), which reaches 90% of the internet.

Your ads typically appear as banners on websites who’ve partnered with Google Adsense or another ad network.

Your ad will display on various domains within its network. The higher quality of the domain (e.g., Forbes), the more you’ll pay.

You can send your potential customer to a product offer or affiliate link.

Display advertising is ideal for reaching people at scale and raising awareness.

If you want to go beyond Google’s network, you can employ digital media buying by contacting publishers directly and inquire about ad placements.

Contextual Advertising  

Contextual advertising works similar to PPC campaigns, except you’re paying for your ad to appear only on relevant websites.

For example, if you were a financial analyst running an ad campaign for your firm, you could create ads appearing on various personal finance websites.

Then, when someone reads a blog about the stock market, your ad displays.

display ad example affiliate marketing traffic

When scrolling through NerdWallet’s financial site above, you’ll come across ads like this.

The benefit of contextual ads is they’re less intrusive. The campaign manager is betting that you’ll be more likely to click on their ad because it’s within the context of what you’re already reading.

Native Advertising 

Native ads match the media format they appear in and are also less invasive; you may not even notice them.

You can see examples of Native ads versus display ads on the below screenshot of Business Insider’s website.

native ad vs banner ad example

Taboola and Outbrain are two advertising platforms that help marketers craft native ad campaigns.

The benefit of using native ads is they can appear everywhere:

How Much Traffic Do You Need for Affiliate Marketing?

The short answer: it depends on what type of business you want to build.

Corbett Barr, the co-founder of Fizzle, wrote a great article explaining two approaches to attracting enough visitors to your website to earn a living:

An infinite number of affiliate marketing traffic sources will work with either of the strategies mentioned above.

Will you use them all? It’s unlikely.

The most successful online businesses (on average) seek to maximize their value per visitor from what I’ve seen. That strategy has the highest, long-term ROI.

And also, mathematically, focusing on value versus volume is simpler. Hitting scale is a byproduct of the meaningful content you’ve already created for your audience.

It’s a strategy used by the founders of Lasso. You can read about it here and here.

See how Lasso’s domain report can help you find affiliate programs to join. Or, check out our database of over 1,500 here.

Sean Brison
Sean Brison is a dad, writer, business owner, and Chief Growth nerd at Lasso. He's spent the past several years in cahoots with Lasso's founder, Andrew, creating awesome things for people. He's also addicted to perfectly-balanced cocktails, the outdoors, and John Mulaney's stand-up comedy.

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